Johnny Depp to play infamous French king in upcoming movie that will film at Versailles

Johnny Depp walks the red carpet ahead of the "Waiting For The Barbarians" screening during the 76th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 06, 2019 in Venice, Italy
Photo credit Getty Images

Johnny Depp might have to pull some of Jack Sparrow’s puffy shirts out of his wardrobe again.

Depp will take on the role of King Louis XV in an upcoming film directed by French actress-turned-director, Maiwenn (“Polisse,” “Mon Roi”). While the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star has been a bit off the American movie radar of late, his next project, while still European-produced (France, to be exact), sounds like the stuff of a hit.

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The film will begin shooting this summer, and so far the plot and even the title have been kept secret. But the source material for the film would seem to be a juicy role for Depp.

King Louis XV’s reign was the longest (59 years) in the country’s history, after his predecessor, Louis XIV. He was nicknamed “the beloved” as he lorded over a period of expanding power for France. Ultimately though, he made controversial political and personal decisions, and by the time of his death was highly unpopular. His reign was fuel for the uprising of the French Revolution.

Depp too has had a somewhat similar, if not exactly as consequential, decline in his profile for a while.

There was the domestic violence accusation from ex-wife Amber Heard; and he had a libel case against UK tabloid, The Sun. Partly because of these various controversies – and lagging returns on Hollywood productions like “Dark Shadows” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” – he’s mainly surfaced in smaller European productions. His last movie was Andrew Levitas’s 2020 film, “Minamata,” about war photographer W. Eugene Smith.

As Variety reported, his reputation in Europe has not taken a hit. He recently received honorary awards at the Karlovy Vary Festival and San Sebastian Film Festival. And in 2020, Depp was also celebrated at the Deauville American Film Festival and received an award from the hands of Catherine Deneuve.

Following the trajectory of his film work and the personal controversies over the last few years, the character of King Louis XV might be relatable for the star, and seems like the kind of meaty, serious role that could land Depp some critical attention.

Maiwenn will also star in the period piece as Jeanne du Barry, a countess who was Louis XV’s last mistress in a string of debauched personal proclivities that sullied the King’s reputation.

Variety reports that it seems likely the film will be shot in French, like Maiwenn’s previous directorial efforts, which is workable for Depp as he lived in France for many years with Vanessa Paradis, and so has a familiarity with the language, if still a predominant American accent. Nevertheless, this could mean the movie might mainly play domestically on the art house circuit.

Whatever happens, filming will take place for three months on location around Paris, mainly at the Versailles Palace, which will offer authenticity for the film.

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